Angry customers can be found in any type of business and can be upset about any little detail related to the product, company or customer service they received. It may happen on a daily basis, a weekly basis or, if you’re lucky, on a monthly basis. No matter how often you encounter them, you have to be ready with a plan to handle these difficult and often time’s delicate situations.
Call center agents play a very important role as the first line of defense when handling angry and dissatisfied customers. As the initial point of contact, they often receive the majority of the anger and are left to discern between anger and actual issues that can be solved. There is a certain art to dealing with angry customers in the moment and diffusing the situation. How do call center agents, however, learn the patience it requires to handle these types of situations?
By the end of this article, call center agents will have five, realistic techniques to put into practice when they find themselves in a situation where patience is required.
1. Practice patience every day
While you work as a call center agent, patience is a practice that is learned throughout all facets of life. Most people cannot simply turn on and off their ability to be patient, so it is important that they learn the skills in all areas of their lives. Patience, while it may not come naturally to everyone, is a skill that can be learned. To incorporate patience into your everyday life, get in the longest line at the store or take a long walk in an area you’ve never been to before. By voluntarily putting yourself in situations where you need to practice patience everyday, you will be more likely to practice it as a call center agent as well.
2. Loosen up
Lack of patience can manifest itself in many ways both physically and mentally. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, such as after a phone call with an angry customer, take a moment to scan your body and find any areas that are tight or tense. Maybe it’s a clenched jaw or rounded shoulders? Gently massage that tension away until you find yourself in a state of total relaxation once again.
The massage may deal with the physical effects of the situation, but there is a mental component as well. If you find yourself emotional or drained from confrontational situations, it may mean that you are taking things too personally. You should always remember that a customer’s angry words are not directed at you; you just have the misfortune of dealing with them. Once you loosen up physically and mentally, patience should come a lot more naturally.
3. Breathe, count and smile
Another technique to try in the office place is to breathe, count and smile. When you find yourself in the middle of a stressful state, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform this sequence. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Either simultaneously or independently, count to ten. These two steps should flush the stress out of your system and, now that you’re refreshed, replace your stress with a smile. Even in negative situations, a smile can sometimes convince everyone involved that everything will turn out just fine. With these three steps, you should be able to eliminate your stress and practice patience in the workplace.
4. Walk away
Some situations can be mentally and emotionally overwhelming to deal with on the spot. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or about to lose patience, calmly wrap up whatever you’re doing and remove yourself from the situation. Even if you can only manage 5-10 minutes, that can be all the time you need to calm down, go over what went wrong, and how you can handle the situation in the future.
Always remember, though, that every situation, no matter how stressful, can be viewed as an opportunity to practice patience. No one can achieve without practice and active learning, so face these situations head on and you’ll be tremendously patient in no time.
5. Be patient with yourself
This is a very important lesson to keep in mind when it comes to personal development and practicing patience. Things do not always go as planned and goals are not as easily reached as they are set. Just because you know developing patience is a good personality trait to have as a call center agent, doesn’t mean you’re capable of implementing it 100% of the time. There will be customers that cause you to lose your patience from time to time, and that’s ok. As long as you’re actively taking steps forward towards being more patient, then you are on the right track. Be smart and patient with yourself and you’ll hurdle any setbacks that come your way and meet your goal in a shorter amount of time.
Patience is a skill that is invaluable to employees in customer service positions, especially those who work as call center agents. As a company, it is also important to support the agents in their goals to learn patience, such as with a call center management software program. Each investment in the employees is an investment in the future success of the company.